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Arizona’s ‘Gold Standard of Education Freedom’ and How to Get It Done in Arkansas

Success. Victory. School Choice. Educational Freedom. The gold standard. Parental rights. Children first. Funding children. All these headlines have been flowing out of the state of Arizona after their historic school choice legislation was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey this summer. A true educational freedom law that will fund students and children instead of government institutions and lobbyists for liberal teacher unions. In Arizona, parents can now use tax dollars for their children’s education for whichever choice is best for their child – government school, private school, homeschool, virtual school, private tutors, or variations of these. The child is put at the forefront of the decision, not a school district, or administrator, or whoever has the best lobbyists in the state capitol.

When you start thinking of how to improve government schools in Arkansas think three words to tell your state legislator – Arizona School Choice. The answer to combatting critical race theory is passing Arizona School Choice. The answer to the sexualization of children is Arizona School Choice. The answer to educational success and growth is Arizona School Choice. We cannot keep funding and running our government schools with the same people and the same way and expect things to improve for the next generation.

When woke superintendents fight to have drag shows in pre-school or teachers try to convince middle schoolers they are transgender the response should be Arizona School Choice as the solution.

Arizona is a purple state. Trump won it in 2016 before Biden was awarded the states electoral votes in 2020. They have the slimmest of Republican majority margins in their state legislature. This legislation (HB2853) was passed by a single vote Republican majority in the house and senate before being signed by the Republican governor.

Under the new law all students are eligible for up to $6,500 per year for their education. All children who are eligible for public schools are eligible to receive the funding to direct to their educational choice. Parents now have control and the resources to ensure their child is getting the best education with the tax dollars set aside for this purpose. That may be at public schools, private schools, homeschooling, virtual school, tutors, or a combination of all the above. Government bureaucrats, special interests, and liberal woke superintendents will no longer have complete control over children for eight hours a day with no funded alternatives.

The reaction to the new law was predictable. Parents and children celebrated. Conservatives and school choice advocates saw their biggest win to date with the most expansive school choice program in the country. One of the best outspoken advocates of school choice and a University of Arkansas graduate, Corey DeAngelis, recently joined Conduit News in an interview highlighting the victory.

The teacher’s union and those who profit from government schools have already launched an initiative to take access to education away from millions of children. Petitions have been submitted and it looks like they may fall short in their support to repeal the law at the ballot.

Arkansas is in a perfect position to pass the same type of legislation in the 2023 legislative session. A supermajority for Republicans in the house and senate and a new Republican governor creates the environment for historic success for children, parents, and the future of the state. The House and Senate must begin now strategizing on who they will place on the education committees. In years past these committees have been overlooked, and usually result in anti-choice members selecting it as their first choice and low seniority Republicans being placed on the committee as a leftover spot. The House and Senate must seize the moment and place their best advocates of school choice on these committees to not only ensure the votes are there to pass it, but ensure the messaging and advocacy are on message to gain further support.

Another potential positive outcome in passing Arizona style school choice in Arkansas is fulfillment of educational “adequacy” as required by the Arkansas constitution. For decades, the government educational industrial complex has gotten rich off of lawsuits requiring complex government made formulas for funding of institutions instead of the kids themselves. Moving to an equal funding amount for every student eligible for public schools should achieve adequacy. Inflation adjustments or area-specific cost of living adjustments could be made accordingly if necessary. Either way this should put an end to the argument you cannot pass school choice because of the educational adequacy funding formulas. You could even keep those formulas or versions to set the baseline of the dollar amount for students each year.

Conduit continues to lead the way in Arkansas on school choice coverage and advocacy. You can find recent interviews and articles from experts across the state and country, including the Heritage Foundation, the Association of Christian Schools International, and the American Federation for Children.

Do not miss the Conduit News original series “Wolf’s Words” with Dr. Patrick Wolf, Distinguished Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and school choice expert.

Legislators should take note of those who did not support school choice that lost their Republican primary elections in 2022 (Sen. James Sturch, Sen. Bill Sample, Rep. David Hillman, Rep. David Tollett) and even more won their primaries from challengers or moving from the house to the senate while supporting school choice in their elections.

In the recent past, even with a supermajority Republican legislature, school choice legislation has failed. Below is a breakdown of Republican legislators who will be returning (or who are running for re-election) and their voting records in the past on school choice legislation. You can contact them now to get their positions on school choice and have them commit to passing Arizona style school choice.


Senator SB680 of 2021 SB539 of 2019 SB746 of 2017 HB1371 of 2021 Did Not Pass House
Ron Caldwell Yes No Yes  
Alan Clark Yes Yes Yes  
Breanne Davis Yes No N/A  
Jonathan Dismang Yes Yes Yes  
Jane English Yes No Yes  
Scott Flippo Yes Yes Yes  
Ben Gilmore Yes N/A N/A  
Ken Hammer Yes No N/A  
Bart Hester Yes Yes Yes  
Jimmy Hickey Yes Yes No  
Ricky Hill Yes Yes N/A  
Missy Irvin Yes Yes Yes  
Blake Johnson Yes Yes Yes  
Mark Johnson Yes Yes N/A  
Terry Rice Yes Yes No  
Gary Stubblefield Yes Yes Yes  
Dan Sullivan Yes N/A N/A  
Dave Wallace Yes Yes Yes  


Representative HB1371 of 2021 SB680 of 2021 SB539 & SB746 Did not Pass House Education Committee
Sonia Barker Yes Yes  
Howard Beaty Jr. Yes Yes  
Rick Beck Yes Yes  
Mary Bentley Yes Yes  
Mark H. Berry No Yes  
Stan Berry No No  
Harlan Breaux Yes Yes  
Keith Brooks Yes Yes  
Karilyn Brown Yes Yes  
Joshua Bryant

(Moving to Senate)

Yes Yes  
John P. Carr Yes Yes  
Frances Cavenaugh No Yes  
Cameron Cooper Yes Yes  
Bruce Cozart No No  
Cindy Crawford Yes Yes  
Carol Dalby No No  
Jim Dotson

(Moving to Senate)

Yes Yes  
Les Eaves Yes Yes  
Jon Eubanks Yes Yes  
Brian Evans Yes Yes  
Charlene Fite Yes Yes  
Lanny Fite No No  
Jack Fortner No No  
Tony Furman Yes Yes  
Jimmy Gazaway No Yes  
Justin Gonzales Yes Yes  
Delia Haak Yes Yes  
Mike Holcomb No No  
Steve Hollowell No No  
Lane Jean No No  
Lee Johnson No Yes  
Jack Ladyman Yes Yes  
Robin Lundstrum Yes Yes  
Roger Lynch Yes Yes  
John Maddox No No  
Julie Mayberry Yes Yes  
Rick McClure Yes Yes  
Austin McCollum Yes Yes  
Mark McElroy No No  
Richard McGrew No Yes  
Ron McNair No No  
Stephen Meeks Yes Yes  
Josh Miller Yes Yes  
Jon Milligan No No  
Clint Penzo

(Moving to Senate)

Yes Yes  
Aaron Pilkington Yes Yes  
David Ray Yes Yes  
Marcus Richmond Yes No  
Johnny Rye No Yes  
Matthew Shepherd No Yes  
Dwight Tosh No No  
Kendon Underwood Yes Yes  
DeAnn Vaught No No  
Jeff Wardlaw No No  
Les Warren No No  
Danny Watson No No  
Carlton Wing Yes Yes  
Richard Womack Yes Yes  
Jim Wooten No No  

Additional Coverage of Arizona School Choice Legislation:

Conduit News

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Press Statement

Fox News


The Wall Street Journal

State Policy Network

American Federation for Children

Goldwater Institute


John Stossel

Former Trump Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos – Washington Free Beacon

National Review

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